(RightIsRight.co) – Telephone scammers are targeting elderly Americans with a rapidly growing number of robocalls to try to steal their identities and use those to siphon off Medicare money, a report reveals.
At least 36 million fake Medicare robocalls occurred in the United States in January alone, even though the actual number could be much higher, Business Insider reports, as cited by Breitbart News.
That is why the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has advised Medicare patients not to give their personal information to anyone except their “doctor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer, or other trusted healthcare providers.”
As con artists try to rack up charges on behalf of actual Medicare patients, they engage in a wider scheme seeking to defraud the US government and taxpayers, the report notes.
Aaron Foss, the founder of Nomorobo, a call screening service for protecting users from speaking to telephone scammers, exposed the trend of growing Medicare robocalls.
Nomorobo has gathered a collection of 350,000 “honeypot” or fake phone lines for spam calls. The honeypots help avoid scam functions.
“Although response rates are low, the schemes are affordable and efficient. Companies call millions of phone lines in an effort to engage with a small percentage of uninformed people, typically preying on the elderly,” the report stresses.
It points out that the most significant hurdle to preventing telephone scams is that con artists can easily change the origin of their calls.
Thus, AT&T was the only phone service provider to offer called ID when it was invented to allow users to change their caller identification.
Later, the US government deregulated the telecoms, thus simplifying the process by which con artists could exploit the system.
Even though in 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted STIR/SHAKEN protocols to tackle spoofed robocalls by checking a user’s caller ID, scammers remained capable of forging numbers. They also began to attempt “bigger” scams like Medicare or bank fraud.
In another method to prevent scams, the FCC orders gateway providers to use a “reasonable Do Not Originate” (DNO). This phone number database is only used for inbound calls, including 911 or the IRS hotline. The providers thus drop any call with a caller ID from the DNO registry.
The report states that the “simplest way” to prevent Medicare fraud would be adding the 1-800-MEDICARE line to the DNO registry, thus preventing scammers from impersonating the official hotline.
“Nobody should be able to make calls from there,” Foss stated.
“These criminal organizations have just had free roam of the phone network and that’s why we have this problem, so we at least have to put some speed bumps. We at least have to make their job more difficult. DNOing 1-800-Medicare is very simple, very straightforward, and should have been done a while back,” he elaborated.
What has been your experience? Do you know anyone who has been scammed in recent years? Share your experience by emailing [email protected]. Thank you.
Robocall scammers have begun targeting the elderly with fake Medicare calls, with 36 million scam calls reported in January. https://t.co/aDiXhuuoAv
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 9, 2023